US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has just concluded a four-day trip to China, aimed at rebuilding bridges between the two countries.
Was the trip to Beijing a success? Well, by one very basic metric, yes.
The US and China are once again talking to each other, face to face, politely and respectfully, if not warmly.
It’s a stark contrast to trans-Pacific communication during the Donald Trump administration, which was done largely via the megaphone of social media.
The tone and the content from both sides is more positive and more measured. Ms Yellen’s trip follows US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s high-stakes visit in June, where both countries pledged to stabilise relations.
At the end of her trip on Sunday, Ms Yellen said it would help to build a “resilient and productive channel of communication with China’s new economic team”. That should not be discounted.
In March this year, much of the top tier of China’s government was replaced with men whose primary qualification is loyalty to leader Xi Jinping. Key among them is the country’s new economic chief, He Lifeng.
On Saturday Janet Yellen spent much of the day with Mr He. She said their talks had been “direct, substantive and productive”, while admitting that the two sides had “significant disagreements”.
Throughout her visit Ms Yellen sought to persuade her Chinese hosts that under President Joe Biden, America is not fundamentally hostile to China.
“We do not see our relationship in terms of great power conflict”, she said, and “we do not seek to decouple” our economies from each other.